Announcing: Before the Mayflowers Landed: Film & Media Showcase Series

before the mayflowers landed

Thursday, May 4–Saturday, May 6, 2023
Northrop, Best Buy Theater 
& Pillsbury Hall, Liberal Arts Engagement Hub




The Institute for Advanced Study, Liberal Arts Engagement Hub, and The Frances E. Thompson Digital Library for Family Research are pleased to announce Before the Mayflowers Landed, a three-day showcase of Hip Hop inspired films, media, and discussions exploring themes of arrival for present day issues impacting Black People in America, produced by independent journalist and multimedia producer Ralph L. Crowder III.

The film and media showcase will premiere on Thursday, May 4, 2023 at the University of Minnesota’s Best Buy Theater at Northrop, 6:30–8:00 p.m. with what Crowder refers to as a silent film experience. The kickoff event will feature a screening of "The Lost Negroes of North America," which examines northern family and community life in South Minneapolis circa 1945–1955.

"The 10 years between 1945–1955 saw some of the best documented group progress documented in African American history, that generation of my grandparents has been overlooked and somewhat forgotten in their contributions regarding family & collective wealth," said Crowder.

The exceptionally rare 8mm silent film footage from The Frances E. Thompson Digital Library for Family Research will be accompanied by a DJ, live band, and poetry soundtrack.

"This film is a lens into the Negro Community experience in South Minneapolis circa 1945 with an added live in theater music soundtrack performance featuring Kevin Washington, Truth Maze & Jamela Pettiford.

Crowder is the current program director of archive materials for The Frances E. Thompson Digital Library for Family Research, a unique collection of accumulated media from the Twin Cities & beyond. The University of Minnesota's Institute for Advanced Study and Liberal Arts Engagement Hub selected Crowder as their first Community Fellow in a new initiative to include community-driven scholarship with other faculty fellowship opportunities. He spent time over the course of his spring 2023 fellowship doing research and development for presenting collection materials.

"I'm excited about this showcase," Crowder said. "Any time you can present your body of produced work in a setting of education and community it is rewarding to all involved."

The Before the Mayflowers Landed showcase will continue over the course of Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, 2023 at the Liberal Arts Engagement Hub in Pillsbury Hall. The events include screenings and discussions between Crowder and collaborators. The selected documentaries highlight social/mental health issues of Black Men during the height of Covid 19 (“Scattered Thoughts”), homelessness epidemic (“Runaway Dreams & Cardboard Condos”) to the Twin Cities Hip Hop scene (“A Great Day In Twin Cities Hip Hop”).

"Over the years I have engaged in this space of cultural media scholarship covering a variety of different subject matter," said Crowder.

Other Crowder documentary films featured on Saturday May 6 are themed around Justice, Accountability & Community Resilience stories. They include the Hopkins High School 2013 Student Walkout (“Before Black Lives Mattered, The Children Were Marching For Education”), the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (“Hands Up Don't Shoot Our Youth Movement”) and a news documentary about a created unity from weather adversity (“North Minneapolis,The Tornado That Blew Through Black Folks”). 

All events are free and open to the public, and include refreshments. RSVP is encouraged due to limited space. Review the full schedule for each day below.

Ralph L. Crowder III is available for interview. 

Media Contacts
Abby Travis, [email protected] • Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota
Cynthia Lewis, [email protected] • Black Cultural Arts Network





The Institute for Advanced Study is a unit of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Minnesota. We invest in people and incubate projects, build interdisciplinary networks across the University and beyond, advance critical conversations, and are committed to building a just University together.

The Liberal Arts Engagement Hub (The Hub) in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota is a vehicle to deepen our culture of engagement with the community. We seek to facilitate reciprocal and trusting partnerships between humanistic scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences and the community to respond to important social challenges.



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